Getaways that give back

Choosing a volunteer vacation can be daunting. These four affordable options are worth your time, money and effort.

You have time and skills

volunteering taj majal
Watch the sun rise from the Taj Mahal on Road Scholar's trip to Rajasthan.

Got a couple of weeks to spare? You'll find a variety of volunteer options in far-flung locations that are out of range of travelers limited to a short getaway.

Some will even let you put your professional know-how to work, particularly if you're, say, a doctor, nurse, or veteran teacher.

A caveat: Long trips and international plane tickets have a tendency to be pricey.

The trip: Travelers who can get away for 19 days should check out Road Scholar's excursion to Rajasthan in northwest India. Previously known as Elderhostel, nonprofit Road Scholar has been leading service trips aimed at the 50-plus crowd for 15 years.

Volunteers on the Rajasthan itinerary will spend mornings tutoring middle- and high-school-age students in English (previous teaching experience not required).

Yves Marceau, director of program development, says Road Scholar chose this location in part because of the area's tourist industry, which can provide locals with good jobs -- provided they speak English. When you're not in the classroom, tour cultural sites, see a cricket game, or attend lectures on topics like India's public education system. Volunteers stay in B&Bs and hotels, such as the four-star Trident Agra, near the Taj Mahal.

The price: The itinerary costs up to $3,145, which covers most meals, local transport, activity fees, and medical evacuation insurance.

One way to save: Get your flight through Road Scholar. A March roundtrip ticket from New York to New Delhi booked through the organization costs $950, vs. $1,100 on Kayak.com.

  @Money - Last updated December 19 2013 04:50 PM ET
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